Canucks Potential Return for Miller in Trade With Capitals

The Vancouver Canucks are listening to offers on forward J.T. Miller this summer. Multiple teams have shown interest in Miller over the past few months, including the Washington Capitals.

J.T. Miller Vancouver Canucks
J.T. Miller, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Miller is coming off a career year, scoring 32 goals and posting 99 points in 80 games. He has one year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5.250 million and will be an unrestricted free agent following the 2022-23 season. 

Sign up for our regular 'Canucks Newsletter' for all the latest.

Meanwhile, the Capitals need a centre with Nicklas Backstrom’s future in doubt after undergoing hip resurfacing surgery. In a trade for Miller, TSN’s Darren Dreger noted the Canucks aren’t looking for just draft picks but young NHL players in return. 

The Capitals are at a place where the roster’s window to win is closing. Therefore, they should be open to giving up a few top prospects for a player like Miller. 

Connor McMichael or Hendrix Lapierre

One of the Capitals’ last two first-round picks, Connor McMichael (2019) and Hendrix Lapierre (2020, should be on the table in a trade for Miller.

Out of the two, McMichael has more experience with 69 NHL games played. He posted nine goals and 18 points in those 69 games and played in four playoff games where he registered an assist. He stands at 6-foot, 180 pounds and is 21 years old. With Backstrom out of the lineup, McMichael is expected to take on a bigger role than last season. However, taking a chance on a young forward to play a top-six role is somewhat risky, which is why the club is interested in adding Miller.

Connor McMichael Washington Capitals
Connor McMichael, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

As for Lapierre, he is the Capitals’ top prospect, and his name will likely come up in a trade involving Miller. The 22nd overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft played six games with the Capitals last season, scoring a goal. He also played 40 games with Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season, scoring 21 goals and posting 51 points in 40 games. He stands at 6-foot, 180 pounds and is 20 years old.

Both players could be useful to the Canucks as the club lacks young centres. The Capitals may be more open to trading Lapierre as he has yet to play, and they are likely hoping McMichael can be a third-line centre for them next season at the very least.

Vincent Iorio 

Vincent Iorio is an intriguing name in a trade with the Capitals. He is a 19-year-old, right-shot defenceman and stands at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds. The organization drafted him with the 55th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. The Coquitlam, B.C. native spent last season with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League, scoring 11 goals and posting 44 points in 60 games. 

Morning Skate newsletter Click To Subscribe

Adding Iorio would address one of the Canucks’ biggest needs as they lack right-shot blueliners. He is also a mobile defenceman, which the Canucks could use more of. 

Draft Picks

The Capitals have a few draft picks they can include in a Miller trade. The Canucks can get the 20th overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft or take the club’s 2023 first-round pick.

If the Canucks get the 20th overall pick, they have a few options with it. The Hockey Writers’ Peter Baracchini has Brad Lambert at 20 on his top 160 final rankings for the 2022 Draft. Lambert is a right-handed centre, which is another position they need to fill. The Canucks also have the 15th overall pick, so they could be in a position to add two skilled players to their prospect pool. Another option the team has is to trade up in the draft. They can move the 15th and 20th overall pick and potentially get a top 10 pick. This could prove to be difficult as some teams in the top 10 may not be willing to give up their pick to move down a few slots.

Related: 2022 NHL Draft Rankings: Baracchini’s Top 160 Final Rankings

The Canucks could also take the Capitals’ 2023 first-round pick in hopes it is higher than 20th overall in next year’s draft. The 2023 Draft is expected to be stronger, so stocking up on picks would be a smart move. In addition to the first-round pick, the Canucks should also get a second or third-round pick from the Capitals in either the 2022 or 2023 Draft.

Tough to Trade With Capitals

Dreger believes the Canucks will get an offer for Miller they simply can’t refuse. The question for the Capitals is, are they that team that puts forth an offer the Canucks can’t refuse? Based on the assets they have, it is highly unlikely. There are multiple teams interested in the 99-point player who will offer a lot more than the Capitals. Therefore, it is likely Washington looks for a centre elsewhere or hopes another player fills in for Backstrom.